WATCH AND BE READY
Looking around at our own part of the world in the prosperous West it may be difficult to imagine that anything remotely resembling any events in the book of Revelation could ever occur. So perhaps we should be considering how difficult life is for people in other parts of the world, where millions already live in famine or war or poverty, and where many Christians are this very day being persecuted and killed for their faith, for example, those being murdered by the West-supported “rebels” in Syria. To those of us who live in comparative ease, there are warnings that prophesied events will take the world by surprise:
“For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man” (Matthew 24: 37-39).
Noah knew what was coming years before the Flood! As in Noah’s day, it is the unbelieving world which will be taken by surprise in our day, not true believers.
It’s amazing to me that almost any subject I write about will receive far more views and attention than this one – people are just not interested in the second coming of Christ!
THERE REALLY ARE SIGNS
It’s true that “we cannot know the day or the hour” of the coming of Christ, but we can recognize the general time. This is why there are prophecies in the Bible which serve as signs to those of us who take the trouble to look. They are there to prepare those of us who believe, so that Paul, while noting the fact that the “day of the Lord” would come unexpectedly on the world, said:
“But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-4).
Some of the signs of the day of the Lord are intended to be recognizable in advance; others will be fulfilled before anyone realizes the fulfillment has come. This article discusses some of the signs which can be detected in advance. You can dismiss them all as being just coincidental if you wish, but in my opinion you’ll be stretching probability too far, and they really do appear to be on the very point of fulfillment in our time. I’ve put them into three categories, the first of which will be discussed in this article. Parts 3 and 4 of my series will cover that last two:
1 MODERN ISRAEL
2 THE LAST WORLD EMPIRE AND ITS LEADER
3 GENERAL INDICATORS
The clearest evidence of the truth of Bible prophecy, and the clearest link between Bible prophecy and actual events in our world can be seen in the modern state of Israel. Israel’s predicament, along with current attempts to arrange a “peace” agreement between the state of Israel and the Palestinians, so closely mirrors Bible prophesies that it would be foolish not to take notice. Even if this attempt fails, another will follow it: the time of the return of Christ, in my opinion, is close.
Some people reject the thought that God’s plan would be worked out through a tiny, “insignificant” nation, which they believe only causes trouble and which they also believe was rejected by God since the crucifixion of Christ. The truth is that the human lineage of Christ descended through Israel as a part of God’s plan (he had to be born somewhere), being traced Biblically from Adam to Mary and Joseph: it’s a major reason why Biblical history is centered there. Furthermore, God did not give up on Israel after its rejection of Christ, as some teach, neither did the church become Israel except in a spiritual sense. Jews and Gentiles are still distinct (see any part of the New Testament from Acts on), and the physical nation of Israel still has a place in God’s plan:
“I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited. Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in…As far as the gospel is concerned, they are enemies on your account; but as far as election is concerned, they are loved on account of the patriarchs, for God’s gifts and his call are irrevocable” (Romans 11:25-28).
I’ll give you a little Biblical background, then an outline of the prophetic message about Israel, and lastly some detail of the prophecies, along with a little analysis of recent and current events.
BIBLICAL BACKGROUND TO TODAY’S EVENTS
-The land of Canaan (now partially occupied by Israel) was promised by God to Abraham’s descendants, around four thousand years ago (Genesis 13: 14 – 17; Genesis 17: 8);
-The promise applied to the family line of Isaac, not Ishmael – the father of many of today’s Arabs. Bear in mind the fact that the books of the Bible are known to have been written many hundreds of years before the Koran was written. Ishmael did, however, receive blessings and land from the Lord, since he was a son of Abraham (Genesis 17: 18 – 21);
-The promise is irrevocable – it cannot be cancelled (Jeremiah 31: 35 -37; Romans 11:25– 32; Isaiah 49: 14 – 18);
– Exile was God’s reluctant judgment for the continued rebellion of Israel against Him. Exile resulted in the people of Israel being hounded, harassed and persecuted wherever they went (Deuteronomy 28, especially v.63 – 65). You can trace that persecution historically throughout the Middle East, then Europe down through the centuries, particularly during the reign of Hitler;
– The first total exile of Israel was to Babylon (Daniel 1: 1 – 2; Ezra 5: 11 – 16);
– The second total exile of Israel was into all nations of the world (Ezekiel 36: 16 – 19; Ezekiel 36: 3; Matthew 23: 33 – 39);
-The Bible says that the second total exile would be the last: Israel would never again be removed from their land once re-gathered (Isaiah 11:10– 16; Ezekiel 37: 21 – 25).
WHAT BIBLE PROPHECIES SAY ABOUT ISRAEL FOR THE LAST DAYS – AN OUTLINE:
– Israel would be re-born as a nation in its own land, after a long exile to all nations, where they were slandered, hated and persecuted;
– Once re-born, the nation’s population would grow rapidly and fill the land;
– Once re-born, the nation’s land would turn from a wasteland to a fruitful garden;
– Last-Days events would occur soon after this;
– Israel as a nation, and Jews in general would be despised throughout the world, particularly by its immediate neighbors;
– Israel’s already tiny land would be claimed by its neighbors;
– Dispute over the ownership of Jerusalem, and Judea (now known as the West Bank) would anger and consume the people and the nations of the world, particularly those around it;
– Israel will make an important agreement of some kind with many nations, the agreement being confirmed by a world leader (or someone who will subsequently become a world leader), temporarily appearing to provide peace and security to Israel;
– There will be a temple (the third Jewish temple in history) built at about this time;
– The agreement will be broken and peace will vanish from the world for three and a half years;
– The nations of the world will attempt to remove Israel from its land, temporarily succeeding in dividing Jerusalem, and invading the West Bank;
– The imminent annihilation of Israel, and a simultaneous world war will be stopped by the return of Jesus Christ, who will defeat his enemies and those of Israel;
– The reign of Christ on earth will begin, and Biblical promises made by God to Israel will be fulfilled.
PROPHECIES ABOUT ISRAEL, AND TODAY’S EVENTS – A LITTLE MORE DETAIL
ISRAEL IS BEING RE-GATHERED
One of the most significant events in history, prophetically speaking, was the re-establishment of the nation of Israel in its homeland in 1948 (note 1), just a few years after the latest attempt to wipe Jews from the face of the earth in Hitler’s “final solution”. Jews had been exiled to all corners of the earth for almost nineteen hundred years, after the Romans drove them from it in the first century AD, killing millions and plowing Jerusalem into the ground (note 1A). The Romans re-named the land “Palestina” as a final insult to the Jews, whose enemies for centuries had been the Philistines to the south of them.
Re-establishment, or re-birth, was a fulfillment of several Bible prophecies, and the basis for the fulfillment of many more in succeeding decades. It was necessary for Israel’s exile to all nations to be ended before the events of the last days could occur (Ezekiel 38: 8 – 9; Ezekiel 39: 21 – 29; Zephaniah 2: 1 – 3).
“When I have brought them back from the nations and have gathered them from the countries of their enemies, I will show myself holy through them in the sight of many nations. Then they will know that I am the Lord their God, for though I sent them into exile among the nations, I will gather them to their own land, not leaving any behind” (Ezekiel 39:27-28).
Tribulation – end times events – would occur “soon” after Israel’s re-birth (see references in note above), but long enough after it to allow them to first prosper and fill the land with people(Ezekiel 36:10-11; 36:28-30; 38:12).
“The desolate land will be cultivated instead of lying desolate in the sight of all who pass through it. They will say, ‘This land that was laid waste is like the garden of Eden; the cities that were lying in ruins, desolate and destroyed, are now fortified and inhabited” (Ezekiel 36:34-35).
The events and circumstances surrounding Israel’s establishment are incredible in themselves – a miracle, or rather a series of miracles. Friction, wars and skirmishes in that part of the world have been simmering constantly from the modern state’s founding, because its neighbors have rejected its presence and right to any of the land. Attempts to “drive Israel into the sea” have failed, and will continue to fail. Plenty of excellent books have been written on the subject. I recommend Dave Hunt’s “Jerusalem – A Cup of Trembling”.
Amazingly, the founders of modern Israel had no intention of fulfilling Bible prophecy, and leaders of the nation still have none: they simply want a homeland where their people can be safe from persecution and attempted genocide.
The Bible says that before the events of the “Tribulation” would fall on the newly re-gathered nation, Israel would prosper, and experience growing pains (Ezekiel 36: 8 – 12; Ezekiel 36: 30 – 38; Joel 3:1-2). As prophesied, the waste land has become fertile and productive, and Israel’s population has been booming (note 2), with descendants of Jacob immigrating from all over the world (see note 3 and Ezekiel 36: 1 – 7; Ezekiel 35).
ISRAEL’S SPIRITUAL CONDITION
Skeptical Christians and unbelievers have made the mistake of pointing out the current spiritual and moral condition of most of the people who have moved to the land, being largely uninterested in their spiritual roots, claiming this as evidence that the gathering of people into the land of “Palestine” is not that which is prophesied, but just a coincidental presumption of a bunch of people masquerading as Jews. However, the Bible foretold that most re-gathered Israelis would not be repentant of their ways and would not turn to their God until the return of Christ (Ezekiel 36: 22, 23, 31, 32; Ezekiel 39: 21 – 29; Romans 11:25– 27).
“I will display my glory among the nations, and all the nations will see the punishment I inflict and the hand I lay upon them. From that day forward the house of Israel will know that I am the Lord their God. And the nations will know that the people of Israel went into exile for their sin…So I hid my face from them and handed them over to their enemies, and they all fell by the sword” (Ezekiel 39:21-24).
MODERN CLAIMS TO THE ANCIENT LAND OF ISRAEL
Another aspect of Israel’s re-gathering, according to the Bible, would be that the surrounding nations and peoples would be sworn enemies of Israel, and would claim that the land was rightfully theirs (Ezekiel 36: 1 – 7; Ezekiel 35). Islamic nations surrounding Israel today, having failed to drive Israel into the sea as they had hoped to do, still believe the land of “Palestine” to be theirs – to belong to Islam. Palestinians have not put Israel or any Israeli town or road name on any part of their maps of the land. Having failed to gain the land by force, they are attempting to gain some by negotiation, while still refusing to acknowledge the existence of Israel as a Jewish nation, and while continuing to gather weapons and allies for a future land-grab attempt. There never was a nation called “Palestine”: Israel did not displace a nation, and almost one third of Israel’s population today consists of Arabs, who are as free as is any Jew or Westerner, and free to vote and to prosper.
“…prophecy to the mountains of Israel, and say…The enemy said of you, ‘Aha!’ The ancient heights have become our possession…For with glee and malice in their hearts they made my land their own possession…’ (Ezekiel 36:1-5).
At the center of the argument over land currently and in Bible prophecy is the city of Jerusalem (note 4.) This fact alone is of incredible significance, because although all concerned parties are not even aware of the prophesies, let alone being of a mind to try to fulfill them, they are fulfilling them. Moslem nations claim that the city belongs to Islam – to Allah. The Palestinians, having failed to get Israel to hand over the whole city, are negotiating to make at least half of it into their capital, even though it never was their capital. See the paragraph below – “Israel will be attacked by the world community, and Jerusalem will be divided forcefully”.
Jerusalem is mentioned over eight hundred times in the Bible – in Scriptures known to have been written more than two thousand years ago (i.e. even before the Romans destroyed Jerusalem) and long before Islam made a claim to the city –but it’s not mentioned once in the Koran. Jerusalem has never been the capital of any nation except Israel. The Bible prophet Zechariah quoted God as saying that in the times just before the appearing of the Messiah the city of Jerusalem would be hotly disputed and claimed by everyone surrounding it, so much so that it would make them drunk with fury and contention (Zechariah 12: 1 – 10, especially 2-3; Zechariah 14: 1 – 19, especially 2, 3; Matthew 24: 14 – 22; Revelation 16: 1 – 20).
THE WEST BANK IS JUDEA
The world is working to persuade and force Israel to give the “West Bank” – Israeli land – to the Palestinians (notes 4 AND 4A). Look at the similarity between Judea and Samaria (first map below), and the West Bank (second map). The West Bank is Judea and Samaria in Bible prophecy – a part of ancient Israel for many centuries. Over half a million Israelis live in the West Bank today. (Zechariah 12, verses 2, 6 and 7; Zechariah 14:14; Joel 3:1; Matthew 24:15-22).
JERUSALEM AND JUDEA
While on earth Jesus warned over nineteen hundred years ago that the most significant and immediate sign of the very last days events would be when Israelis suddenly have to flee from Jerusalem and Judea (Matthew 24:15-22). This will happen within a few years of his visible return. Predictions that these would be disputed lands was also made in the Old Testament, even before the days of Christ (Zechariah 12: 2-3).
TINY ISRAEL – FIGHTING FOR ITS SURVIVAL
What is usually not mentioned in any discussion of Israel’s use of its military is its size in relation to the huge tracts of land surrounding it which belong to Muslim nations, nations which have declared themselves in objection to the existence of Israel, and which fund terrorism against it. Israel has to balance its desperate need to defend itself against world opinion, which is consistently opposed to Israelis defending themselves from aggression. I have personally been verbally attacked by several people in my own country of origin for my support of the nation of Israel. Hatred for Jews and for Israelis is common around the world-when all Israelis want to do is mind their own business and live in safety. News media people are by default biased against the nation of Israel-particularly now many news organizations, even in the West, are at least partly owned or controlled by Muslims or liberals who are Muslim sympathizers.
Israel is a tiny nation, surrounded by hostile nations and organizations, and yet the world wants to HALVE Israel and give one half to its enemies.
The area of Ireland, barely visible on any world map, is 84,431 km2, or 32,599 sq. miles (note 5);
The area of Israel is 27,000 km2, or 10,425 sq. miles (note 6)…
…Israel is less than a third of the size of Ireland!
See if you can find Israel on this map of the Middle East, in the midst of all the Islamic nations!
FALSE PEACE-A TRAP
The Bible predicts a “covenant” – some kind of peace arrangement or security pact – being made between the Israelis and others, and confirmed by the soon-to-be world leader, designed to last for seven years. Israelis desperate for peace will believe that they have achieved it at last, but they will be wrong (Daniel 9: 27; 1 Thessalonians 5: 1 – 4; Daniel 8: 2- see the KJV; Ezekiel 38: 14 – 16).
(Some Christian leaders who oppose this interpretation of prophecy will say that the prophesies I am using here relate to events which occurred two thousand years ago. However, the Bible is rich in “types”, events which have ancient significance but whose ultimate fulfillment is in the future. By looking at the “Olivet Discourse” in Matthew chapter 24 it’s plain to see that Christ’s prophesies of a leader who will break the peace and desecrate the temple have not seen their ultimate fulfillment. As an obvious example, Christ has not yet returned in power and glory for the whole world to see – Matthew 24:30-31).
This covenant, since it is set to last for seven years, seems to be an “interim agreement”, designed to facilitate a smooth transition from one political situation to another. It is evidently is designed to weaken Israel’s hold on Jerusalem because after three and a half years that leader will break the covenant, in an event which will cause Israelis to flee from Jerusalem and Judea (Matthew 24:15-22). Significantly, recent and current “peace” talks have focused on, among other things, 1/the “final status” of Jerusalem, and 2/ Israel’s security (note 4). The very people who are now parties in negotiations for a “peace” agreement with Israel over Jerusalem and the “West Bank”, have for decades consistently sworn to eventually destroy Israel, and that they will settle for nothing less than all of Jerusalem and all of the land “occupied” by Israel (see note 7). It’s not just Palestinians who plan to destroy Israel, it’s every Islamic nation or organization which claims to be living out its faith – for examples see note 7A. The Israelis have adamantly declared that Jerusalem is their indivisible, eternal capital. The soon-to-be world leader, one mistakenly trusted by the Israelis (see my coming article on the last world leader and his empire), will facilitate that attempted destruction.
THERE WILL BE A JEWISH TEMPLE OR WORSHIP CENTER BUILT AT ABOUT THIS TIME IN JERUSALEM
Not only has the world decided that “Jerusalem must be negotiated”, but it has officially recognized the importance of East Jerusalem to the world’s three major religions, believing that Israel should not have control over it, if only for this reason (see note 8). There has been talk of making it into an “International city”, or an “open city”, presumably governed by the United Nations. The opinion of Israelis is not taken into account.
The Bible tells us that there has to be a Jewish temple in its original and only acceptable place, the place where the original temple was built hundreds of years BC, in order for last days event to happen (Daniel 9: 27; Revelation 11: 1 – 2; 2 Thessalonians 2: 4 – 6; Matthew 24:15). It’s entirely possible that a new temple will be built in order to help Israelis swallow the pill of handing over half of Jerusalem.
Some religious Jews in Jerusalem are already calling for the temple to be built, while one organization has actually prepared the furnishings and the instruments and the priesthood for it. It has not yet been built because the Islamic shrine, the “Dome of the Rock” is on that temple mount, and the secular Israeli government has had no intention of angering the Muslim world any more than is necessary.
However, it may well be that the “religious right” in Israel will be placated within the “Final Status” talks with a place of worship in the site. Such things have been discussed by those looking to bring “peace” in the Middle East. The matter will have to be addressed to satisfy those who oppose giving land to the Palestinians – there can be no “final status” agreement without a place for religious Jews to worship.
ISRAEL WILL BE ATTACKED BY THE WORLD COMMUNITY, AND JERUSALEM WILL BE DIVIDED FORCEFULLY.
The Bible predicts that at the end of days the nations of the world will unite against Israel. They will attack and invade Jerusalem, brutally DIVIDING IT IN HALF (Zechariah 12:2-3; Zechariah 14:2-9).
It’s amazing to consider that the “International Community”, the United Nations, has already declared that Israel must give a half of Jerusalem – East Jerusalem – as well as Judea to the Palestinians, even though Israel has asserted that Jerusalem is its undividable, eternal capital. The nations of the world, including the United States, have refused to put their embassies in Jerusalem. If you read United Nations documents, you will find that the United Nations, and more specifically all the nations of the world, regard the land that Palestinians now claim, as being “occupied” by the Israelis, including “East Jerusalem” (see note 9). Even the United States, traditionally seen as protectors of Israel, has concluded that, ”Jerusalem must be negotiated”, and has not moved its embassy to Jerusalem. The position of the current US administration has moved more against Israel’s position since this document in note 10 was written.
Below is one of many United Nations pronouncements on the “status” of East Jerusalem”:
“The General Assembly, in a resolution adopted on 9
February 1999, reiterated that all legislative and administrative
measures and actions taken by Israel, the occupying Power,
which had altered or purported to alter the character, legal status
and demographic composition of Occupied East Jerusalem
and the rest of the occupied Palestinian territory, were null and
void and had no validity whatsoever” (Note 11).
The Bible, in a book which even the hardest skeptic cannot deny is many hundreds of years old, says this:
“I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to fight against it…Half of the city will go into exile, but the rest of the people will not be taken from the city. Then the Lord will go out and fight against those nations….On that day his feet will stand on the Mount of Olives, east of Jerusalem…” (Zechariah 14:1-4).
The flight of Israelis from Jerusalem and Judea is also prophesied here (verse 5).
How many nations of the world are expected to divide their capitals? The world was overjoyed to see the two halves of Berlin reunited in 1987. The wall had been a cause of all kinds of troubles and suffering for decades. Why would the world then expect tiny Israel to divide its ancient capital and give half to its sworn enemies? This is not coincidence! What is just a few years ahead of us will be in fulfillment of Bible prophecy!
The European Union has imposed sanctions on Israel for its stand on Jerusalem and Judea. Only United States support for Israel’s right to defend itself has prevented further action against Israel, but that support has been waning in recent years. Once the U.S. turns its back on Israel, Israel will be alone against the world.
Other Bible references to the world attacking Israel: Joel 3, especially verses 1 – 2; Revelation 16: 14 – 16; Ezekiel 38: 1 – 9.
THE ENEMIES OF ISRAEL TODAY WERE IDENTIFIED 2500 YEARS AGO
The enemies of Israel named in prophecies of last days events are in many cases the same nations which are their enemies today. This in itself is a huge “coincidence”:
All the nations around Israel (Ezekiel 36;1-7; Zechariah 12:2; Psalm 83; Isaiah 17:1. This includes descendants of Edom):
Russia, allied with Persia (Ezekiel 38:1-5). Persia was re-named “Iran” in the 1930’s. Iran is threatening Israel’s destruction today, and is an ally of Russia;
All nations of the world (see previous sub-heading).
ALL NATIONS WILL BE ANGRY WITH THE BIBLICAL GOD AS WELL AS ISRAEL
The attack of the nations upon Israel is apparently included in an attack on the Lord. This is one fact not noticed or discussed by prophecy teachers. It seems to me that by this time world leaders will have concluded that Bible prophecy is indeed being fulfilled, and it will be their intention and their foolish decision to try to stop Jesus Christ, the Son of God, from returning to the earth (Revelation 19 – 19; Psalm 2: 1 – 6; Revelation 11: 18).
Many nations of the world are already intolerant of Christianity. The West, now swamped in naturalistic philosophy while at the same time welcoming and appeasing the Muslim world, is becoming anti-Christian, which is also prophesied in the Bible.
GOD WILL DEFEND ISRAEL
After a long history of the nations of the world persecuting Jews, God is going to step into the situation and put an end to it. All the nations in process of attacking Israel will be swiftly and decisively defeated by the coming of “the lion of the tribe of Judah”, the Messiah, Jesus Christ (Zechariah 14: 2 – 5 and verse 12; Zechariah 12: 9; Isaiah 34:1 – 10; Joel 3: 16; Ezekiel 38: 17 – 23; Matthew 24: 30).
THIS WILL BE THE END OF HUMAN RULE OVER THE EARTH, AND THE BEGINNING OF THE REIGN OF CHRIST
Revelation 19 and 20; Daniel 2: 42 – 45; Isaiah 34: 1 – 4; Zechariah 14:9, and v 16 – 19.